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Matekane faces revolt



MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) is facing a massive revolt from grassroots supporters after it reserved 11 seats for the party’s founding leaders which will allow them to run in the October general elections uncontested. The decision to ring-fence the seats has infuriated the party’s supporters who have condemned it as undemocratic.

In a circular issued on Monday, the RFP said the 11 constituencies will not hold primary elections to select election candidates. Instead the party’s leadership will choose candidates based on their knowledge of national issues, their background in development and educational achievements.

Disgruntled party members, mostly from Maseru Central constituency, besieged the party’s offices in Maseru to express their objections to the new requirements which they said were undemocratic.

As the party’s leadership prepared to hold a press conference at Mpilo Boutique Hotel to explain the new requirements, the disgruntled members picketed outside the venue, hoisting placards expressing their disgust.

Some of the placards read “We say no to dictatorship”, “Tokoloho e bonoa Mekheng Pele”, “Disenfranchisement of right to vote”, “RFP for democracy”, “I want to vote for my MP”, and “We demand justice and democracy”.

The circular said there would be no primary elections in 11 out of the 80 constituencies that will field candidates in the October general elections.

One of the key constituencies that has been reserved for former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara is Maseru Central.

The other constituencies are Hololo in Butha-Buthe, Thaba-Phatšoa in Leribe, Teya-Teyaneng in Berea, Lithabaneng in Maseru, Maseru Central, Thetsane in Maseru, Qalabane in Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Moyeni in Quthing, Lebakeng in Qacha’s Nek, and Mantšonyane in Thaba-Tseka.

Maseru Central’s youth league chairman for the RFP, Relebohile Mosamane, told thepost they had their own people who they want to represent the party and not the ones chosen by the leadership.

“We are tired of this (imposition of candidates). These people close to the leader must back down,” Mosamane said.

He said they defected from their former political parties because of dictatorial tendencies “like the one done by our national executive committee now”.

“The circular is not fair and violates democratic principles in our party,” he said.

Another complainant, Mosa Sekhonyana, said they do not know who Nthomeng Majara is.

“We just know her as someone who works at the courts and nothing else,” Sekhonyana said.

She said they had written several letters to their national executive committee asking them to intervene but all was in vain.

“We have two candidates who we want to vote for, These Phooko or Phole Taole, not Nthomeng Majara,” she said.

She said Majara was chosen by their party’s leadership without considering the members’ feelings. She accused people close to Matekane of ill-advising the leader.

“We will leave this party as we did with the previous ones,” she said.

A founding member of the RFP and Matekane ally, former finance minister Tlohang Sekhamane, however defended the leadership’s decision to hand-pick candidates. Sekhamane said the Hololo constituency will be represented by Lejone Mpotjoane, a well-known governance expert.

“Not many people have worked at the Lesotho Revenue Authority managing the governance department,” Sekhamane said, adding: “Mpotjoane did that for years.”

He said Mpotjoane is also a well-known farmer.

“That is what our leader wants in people,” he said.

He also praised Thabo Maretlane, the RFP deputy spokesman, who will stand in Thaba-Patšoa saying he is “a well-known businessman and a known and trusted politician”. Maretlane manages a tourism attraction place, the

Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village, and the Moshoeshoe I Walk which attracts hundreds of tourists from abroad every year. He also praised the Teya-Teyaneng tycoon, Lebona Lephema, who will stand unopposed in the constituency as per the Monday circular.

Sekhamane said Lephema is a well-known businessman who has created jobs for hundreds of people across the country. Sekhamane said the Maseru Central constituency will be represented by Nthomeng Majara saying she is a seasoned lawyer and a former chief justice.

“She was chosen by the Thabane administration but she never stood with Thabane on his issues, she even ruled against the ABC,” he said.

He also talked about Mokhethi Shelile, the party’s spokesman, who will stand in Thetsane. Shelile was the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) head of investment promotion before venturing into politics. Sekhamane said former Central Bank of Lesotho governor, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, will stand in Qalabane unopposed in primaries.

“Not many economists manage the Central Bank,” Sekhamane said.

He said Matlanyane’s contract was renewed to show that she is a hard worker. He said Cloete Mdlokovana will stand in Mohale’s Hoek, saying “he is rich and has hired many people while managing a huge fleet of vehicles”.

He said Thabo Mofosi, a well-known farmer in Quthing, will stand in Moyeni. He said Mofosi is a well-known farmer who works hard.

“He uses machines to do farming, he produces a lot.”

Sekhamane said a former journalist and TV presenter, Ntšiuoa Sekete, will represent Lebakeng. Sekete worked at the LNDC and the African Union. Matekane will stand in his Mantšonyane constituency.

Sekhamane said Matekane wants to work with people who are interested in the development of the country and not money. The party chairman, Teboho Kobeli, said they are aware that some people are not happy with the circular.

“We know that change is not sweet, some people do not want to embrace change,” Kobeli, a well-known businessman in the textile industry, said.

“But if they allow us to run the party we will all be happy,” he said.

He said Matekane had chosen people who work hard, and who can make bold decisions.

Nkheli Liphoto



Lawyer in trouble



A local lawyer, Advocate Molefi Makase, is in soup after he flew into a rage, insulting his wife and smashing her phone at a police station.

It was not possible to establish why Adv Makase was so mad at his wife. He is now expected to appear before the Tšifa-li-Mali Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, he was released from custody on free bail on condition that he attends remands.

Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa granted Advocate Makase bail after his lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Machaile, pleaded that he had to appear for his clients in the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Makase is facing two charges of breaching peace and malicious damage to property.

According to the charge sheet, on October 5, 2023, within the precincts of the Leribe Police Station, Advocate Makase allegedly used obscene, threatening, or insulting language or behaviour, or acted with an intent to incite a breach of the peace.

The prosecution alleges that the lawyer shouted at his wife, ’Mamahao Makase, and damaged her Huawei Y5P cell phone “with an intention to cause harm” right at police station.

During his initial appearance before Magistrate Koaesa, Advocate Makase expressed remorse for his actions and sought the court’s leniency, pleading for bail due to an impending appearance in the Court of Appeal.

His lawyer, Advocate Machaile, informed the court that an arrangement had been made with the police to secure his release the following day, as he had spent a night in detention.

Advocate Machaile recounted his efforts to persuade the police to release him on the day of his arrest.

He noted that the police had assured them of his release the following day, which indeed came to fruition.

Following his release, he was instructed to present himself before the court, which he dutifully complied with.

Advocate Machaile underscored Advocate Makase’s standing as a recognised legal practitioner in the court.

Notably, he was scheduled to appear in the Court of Appeal but had to reschedule his commitment later in the day to accommodate his court appearance.

Advocate Machaile asserted that Advocate Makase presented no flight risk, as he resides in Hlotse with his family and has no motive to evade his legal obligations.

He respectfully petitioned the court for his release on bail, emphasising that he had demonstrated his ability to adhere to the court’s conditions.

The Crown Counsel, Advocate Taelo Sello, expressed no objection to the bail application, acknowledging that the accused had a forthcoming matter in the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court granted Advocate Makase bail without any financial conditions, with the stipulation that he must not tamper with state witnesses and must fully participate in the trial process until its conclusion.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Trio in court for killing ‘witches’



THREE elderly women were all stabbed to death with a spear during a deadly night after they were accused of being witches.

Three suspects, all from Ha-Kholoko village in Roma, appeared in the High Court this week facing a charge of murder.
They are Jakobo Mofolo, Oele Poto, and Pakiso Lehoko.

They accused the elderly women of bewitching one of Poto’s relative who had died.

The stunning details of the murder was unravelled in court this week, thanks to Tlhaba Bochabela, 32, who is the crown witness.

Bochabela told High Court judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, last week that he had been invited to become part of the murder group but chickened out at the last minute.

Bochabela said in March 2020, he was invited by Rethabile Poto to come to his house in the evening.

He said when he went there, he found Mofolo, Poto, and Lehoko already at the house. There were two other men who he did not identify.

“I was told that the very same night we were going to do some task, we were going to kill some people,” Bochabela told Justice Hlaele.

He said he asked which people were going to be killed and was told that they were ’Malekhooa Maeka, ’Mathlokomelo Poto, ’Mampolokeng Masasa.

They said the three women had successfully bewitched Rethabile Poto’s uncle leading to his death.

Bochabela said after he was told of this plot, he agreed to implement it but requested that he be allowed to go to his house to fetch his weapon.

He said Lehoko was however suspicious that he was withdrawing from the plot and mockingly said “let this woman go and sleep, we can see that he is afraid and is running away”.

Bochabela said the only person he told the truth to, that he was indeed going to his home to sleep instead of going to murder the three elderly women was Mofolo who also told him that he was leaving too.

He said he told Mofolo that he felt uncomfortable with the murder plan.

Bochabela said he left and when he arrived at his place he told his wife all about the meeting and the plot to kill the women.

He said his wife commended him for his decision to pull out.

“I told my wife to lock the door and not respond to anyone that would come knocking looking for me,” Bochabela said.

He said later in the night, Rethabile Poto arrived at his place and called him out but they did not respond until he left.

Bochabela said in the morning they discovered that indeed the men had carried out their mission.

The village chief of Ha-Kholoko, Chief Thabang Lehoko, told Justice Hlaele that it was between 11 pm and 12 midnight when he received a phone call from one Pakiso Maseka who is a neighbour to one of the murdered women.

Chief Lehoko said Maseka told him to rush to ’Mampolokeng Masasa’s place to see what evil had been done to her.

“I rushed to Masasa’s place and on arrival I found Pakiso in the company of Moitheri Masasa,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said he found the old lady on the bed, naked with her legs spread wide.

“I was embarrassed by the sight of the old lady in that state, naked and covered in blood,” the chief said.

He said he went out and asked Maseka what had happened but Maseka referred him to Moitheri Masasa.

Chief Lehoko said Masasa told him that there were people with spears who had threatened to kill him if he came out of the house.

He said Maseka said he knew that Masasa’s neighbour, ’Malekhooa Maeka, was a light sleeper and she could have heard something.

The chief then sent one Patrick Lehoko to Maeka’s house to check if she had heard anything but Patrick came back saying Maeka was not at her house.

“I immediately stood up and went to ’Malekhooa’s place,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said when he arrived, he knocked at her door but there was no response so he kicked the door open, went in and called out ’Malekhooa Maeka by name.

Chief Lehoko said he then lit his phone and saw her lying in bed covered in blankets.

He said he then went closer to her and shook her but she was heavy.

Chief Lehoko said he tried to shake her again one last time while still calling her out but he touched blood.

He said he immediately left and went back to tell others that Maeka seemed to be dead too.

“I decided to go and buy airtime from the nearest shop which I had passed through near ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s home.”

He said on his way he met one Sebata Poto who asked him who he was.

Chief Lehoko said he only replied by telling him that the two women, Masasa and Maeka, had been murdered.

He said Sebata Poto told him that “’Matlhokomelo has been stabbed with a spear too”.

Chief Lehoko said he rushed to ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s house where he found her seated in the middle of the house supported by her children with blood oozing from her chest, gasping for air.

“I stepped out and went to get airtime, but I found her dead when I returned from the shop,” the chief said.

The case continues.

Tholoana Lesenya

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Opposition fights back



THE opposition is launching a nasty fightback after Prime Minister Sam Matekane defanged their no-confidence motion by roping in new partners to firm up his government.

Matekane’s surprise deal with the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has trimmed the opposition’s support in parliament and thrown their motion into doubt.

But the opposition has now filed another motion that seeks to get Matekane and his MPs disqualified from parliament on account that they were elected when they had business interests with the government.

The motion is based on section 59 of the constitution which disqualifies a person from being sworn-in as an MP if they have “any such interest in any such government contract as may be so prescribed”.

Section 59 (6) describes a government contract as “any contract made with the Government of Lesotho or with a department of that Government or with an officer of that Government contracting as such”.

Prime Minister Matekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) has a history of winning road construction tenders. Other Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MPs, most of whom were in business, had had business dealings with the government.

It is however not clear if the MPs were still doing business with the government at the time of their swearing-in.
Matekane’s MGC Park is housing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is a government institution established by the constitution, getting its funds from the consolidated funds.

The motion was brought by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane who is a key figure in the opposition’s bid to topple Matekane.

The motion appears to be a long shot but should be taken in the context of a political game that has become nasty.
Advocate Rakuoane said the IEC’s tenancy at the MGC is one of their targets.

“The IEC is one of the government departments,” Rakuoane said.

“It is currently unethical that it has hired the prime minister’s building.”

“But after the motion, he will have to cut ties with the IEC or he will be kicked out of parliament.”

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said although the IEC is an independent body, it can still be regarded as part of the government because it gets its funding from the consolidated fund.

The Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM)’s Reverend Tšepo Lipholo, who seconded the motion, said the Matekane-led government “is dominated by tenderpreneurs who have been doing business with the government since a long time ago”.

“Now they have joined politics, they must not do business with the government,” Lipholo said.

He said some of the MPs in the ruling parties are still doing business with the government despite their promises before the election to stop doing that.

“Those who will not abide by the law should be disqualified as MPs,” Lipholo said.

“Basotho’s small businesses are collapsing day-by-day, yet people who are in power continue to take tenders for themselves.”

He applauded the Abia constituency MP Thuso Makhalanyane, who was recently expelled from Matekane’s RFP for rebellion because he withdrew his car from government engagement after he was sworn in as an MP.

“He set a good example by withdrawing his vehicle where it was hired by the government,” Lipholo said.

Rakuoane said during the past 30 years after Lesotho’s return to democratic rule, section 59 of the constitution has not been attended to even when it was clear that some MPs had business dealings with the government.

“This section stops you from entering parliament when doing business with the government. Those who are already members will have to leave,” he said.

Rakuoane said they are waiting for Speaker Tlohang Sekhamane to sign the motion so that the parliament business committee can set a date for its debate.

“The law will also serve to assist ordinary Basotho businesses as they will not compete with the executive,” he said.

“There are many Basotho businesses in business these MPs are in. They must get those tenders instead.”

The new motion comes barely a week after a court application aimed at disqualifying Mokhothu.

The government-sponsored application sought the Constitutional Court to declare Mokhothu unfit to be prime minister because he was convicted of fraud in 2007.

Mokhothu has been suggested as Matekane’s replacement should the motion of no confidence pass in parliament.

Nkheli Liphoto

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